|Excerpt from "What If?" - Movement Disorders Video from the Life in Motion Awareness Campaign
Parkinson's disease (PD) was first described in 1817 by James Parkinson, in "An Essay on the Shaking Palsy." It is a neurodegenerative disease, meaning it is caused by degeneration (dysfunction and death) of neurons within the brain. PD causes motor (movement) and nonmotor symptoms.
PD is believed to affect approximately one million people in the United States. Misdiagnosis of PD is common, however, so this figure is not precise. The likelihood of developing PD increases with age. PD typically begins in a person's 50s or 60s, and slowly progresses with increasing age. The average age of onset is 62.4 years. Onset before age 30 is rare, but up to 10% of cases begin by age 40.
While no treatments have yet been shown conclusively to slow the disease, a large number of drugs are available to treat symptoms, as well as several forms of surgery and numerous nonpharmacological (non-drug) approaches.